Indonesia is tapping into a growing number of “digital nomads” by introducing a special digital nomad visa, but more needs to be done to attract and retain foreign visitors to the country, say tourism specialist.
Budijanto Ardiyanjah, vice-president of the Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (ASITA), suggested the government improve infrastructure, including telecommunications, digital and social infrastructure.
“Tax exemption for income from overseas, if it's going to be implemented as part of the digital nomad visa plan, must also be considered to make remote working easter,” he told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
Digital nomads are travelers who use technology to get their work done and typically spend weeks or months abroad before returning home.
About 95% of digital nomads surveyed said Indonesia was their “priority” destination for remote work and they were willing to travel, according to Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno.
“The digital nomad visa complies with [help achieve] the target of 1.5 million foreign tourists to visit Bali,” he said during a weekly press briefing on June 27.
Digital nomad visa
Pauline Suharno, president of the Association of Indonesian Travel Agents (Astindo), urged the government to ensure the proper implementation of the special digital nomad visa because in practice, obtaining visas at official rates is often complicated, pushing foreign tourists to opt for intermediate services, which are more expensive.
“The digital nomad visa is a good idea [considering] more and more companies are allowing work from anywhere. It would definitely propel tourism and related industries,” she told the Post on July 1.
Under Indonesian law, anyone staying in the country for 183 days in a 12-month period is legally considered a tax resident. However, paying taxes requires a work permit commonly referred to as a limited stay permit (KITAS), which is not available to those traveling on a tourist visa. This leaves some potential business and leisure travelers in a legal gray area.
The special five-year visa would eventually exempt remote workers from paying local taxes if they do not earn income in the country.
“This digital nomad visa has entered the final stage of discussion and we will continue to coordinate with relevant ministries and institutions,” Sandiaga said on June 27.
The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted executives at various companies around the world to consider adopting work from anywhere for all or part of their workforces, according to the Harvard Business Review, citing companies such as the tech giants. social media Twitter and Meta as well as e-commerce Shopify, which announced permanent telecommuting.
In response to the situation, Indonesia plans to issue a five-year visa for remote workers and business and leisure travelers to attract visitors to Bali and other destinations.
The ministry has been considering implementing this special visa since early 2021, but the plan has been pushed back by tight border controls and a lack of flights to Indonesian tourist destinations due to rising coronavirus cases.
“We hope that the number of foreign tourist visits to Bali can increase by 50 to 60 percent, with longer stays and higher quality of spending,” he said, also on June 27.
Exploit the opportunities
In Bali, Singapore-based Midstay helps digital nomads by providing a website that organizes coworking spaces, villas, and scooter rentals in Bali to help them relocate to a new area overseas.
The company claims to have more than 100 local partners and services organized on its platform.
The company has predicted around 80,000 digital nomads will travel to Bali on a monthly basis, all of whom are expected to stay two months on average, in the second half of this year as Covid-19 travel restrictions begin to kick in. loosen up in the world.
Midstay chief executive Florian Jacques said he hopes to have 3,000 premium members on the website this year.
“The [digital nomad visa] plan is a very interesting marketing asset, many people are interested in coming to work from Indonesia, especially from Bali.
“We hope the implementation will be as good as it looks, as it would be very helpful for foreign visitors who want to work from Indonesia for a longer period,” said the College of Advertising graphic design graduate. and Design, Brussels, during a video call with La Poste on June 29.
Nearly six times as many foreign tourists visited Indonesia in April compared to the same month last year, according to data from Statistics Indonesia (BPS), showing the country’s tourism has started to rebound.
The country expects to hit its target of 3.6 million tourist arrivals this year, with events like the Group of 20 meetings and various sports competitions on the calendar.